Thursday, February 5, 2009

Can and Should Are Not Synonyms

When I was a little girl, I couldn’t wait to grow up. Basically, I wanted to be a grown-up for two reasons: I could eat whatever I wanted and I could stay up as late as I wanted.

Flash forward 30 years later, and I know now that just because I can stay up until 3:00 in the morning while stuffing my face with Extra Value Meals, Coca-Colas and Hostess cupcakes, doesn’t mean that I should do those things.

What I didn’t realize as a kid, I definitely realize as an adult and it all boils down to one word: consequence. Sure, I can stay up late, but I feel it the next day (especially if it’s a work day). I can eat whatever I want but I will pay for it dearly on the scale and in larger clothes sizes.

Life is an endless stream of cans.

  • You can cheat on your spouse.
  • You can buy more house than you can comfortably afford.
  • You can quit your job before you have lined up another one.
  • You can do 95 mph on the highway.
  • You can have 14 kids.

The question isn't can you do those things but should you do those things? The answer depends on the consequences. Maybe buying the house is a viable option if you are in line for a big promotion. Maybe you have a critically ill child and you are trying to get to the hospital as soon as possible.

The answer is to really think things through and come to the conclusion that is best for you keeping the end result in mind.

Sure, my inner child isn't thrilled about salads over burgers and a sensible bedtime over a series of all-nighters, but my inner adult knows all about cans and shoulds and consequences.

But to avoid any tantrums, the kid can stay up late on weekends and enjoy the occassional sloppy cheeseburger. : )

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